Some of London’s most recognisable landmarks are its bridges, the dozens of crossings which connect the north and south sides of the Thames. As well as being essential for the city’s connectivity, plenty of ’em are attractions in their own right.
But a fair few of those bridges are literally falling down – and one of them, despite loads of money and time being dedicated to its restoration, looks like it might never fully reopen.
Hammersmith Bridge was closed almost five years ago in April 2019, when micro-fractures were found in the pedestals which hold its suspension system in place. It used to carry around 22,000 vehicles a day, along with seven bus routes. These have since been diverted to the Chiswick and Putney bridges.
The Grade-II listed, 137-year-old crossing is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the world, so repairing it was never gonna be cheap. But now it seems that efforts to find more funding for work on the bridge have reached an impasse.
Since 2019, Hammersmith and Fulham council has spent £29 million stabilising Hammersmith Bridge, but the government task force in charge of fixing it last met two years ago. In that time, costs have apparently spiralled to around £250 million. Construction materials have soared in price since the war in Ukraine, and though there were talks of implementing a £3 toll to try and cover the repair costs, that’s unlikely to be enough.
It seems the Department for Transport wants Transport for London and the council to foot a third of the bill each, but that’s not looking likely. TfL released a new business plan outlining spending for 2026-27, and no money was set aside for the repairs.
What’s more, Sarah Olney, the Lib Dem MP for Richmond Park, told the Evening Standard that ‘the DfT are the only people that have access to the kind of money that is going to make the difference. No local authority has the means to foot a bill of this size.’
The bridge did partially reopen to cyclists and pedestrians in 2021, but MPs think it may not reopen to cars until the 2030s, if at all.
Thankfully, other councils have taken more preventative measures to keep their bridges open – the Albert Bridge in Kensington and Chelsea, for instance, has just started enforcing its weight-limit fine.
Did you see that the Blackwall Tunnel will close again in March – but there’s good news for this weekend?
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